The United States, Australia, Brasil, Mexico, china, Indonesia, Belgium, Great Britain, Iceland, Canada, Portugal, Italy, France, Turkey, Poland, The Netherlands, and Argentina.
What do all these countries have in common? For the next few days, representatives from each country are occupants of a single room at the South by Southwest Interactive trade show in Austin, Texas.
SMU graduate students Christopher Calhoon and James Williams explored the SXSW Interactive Trade show and discovered that nearly every country was at the show offering a similar mix of products. Tech ruled, with emphasis on demonstrations of different realities (xR) including VR, AR and MR (mixed reality).
PhotoBloomAR is an interactive print platform that allows photos to come to life with movement and sound. Basically, they’re a Shutterfly for videos. The demo was a photo of a dog that when viewed through the app came to life as a video of the dog licking ice cream.
After doing a few laps around the trade show floor and spending a few days here, we did not find one killer app, groundbreaking technological breakthrough or “paradigm shift” to come out of this year’s SXSW. Along with the country booths promoting a country’s technical abilities for business, there were many booths from biotech and medical tech companies promoting various products and services, but each seeed to be applications of current technology.
One fun idea from a startup based here in Austin is a sock subscription service called Sock Club. They started small by curating socks from other labels, and soon decided that they wanted to focus on their own manufacturing. Now all of Sock Club’s socks are designed in Austin, and the company has CSR at heart by controlling the entire production process, sourcing high-quality cotton, following eco-friendly processes, pay their workers are a living wage.
While there were many countries represented on the floor and many languages being heard at the festival, the products being featured at the show are becoming more similar, competing on incremental improvements of already advanced technologies. Funny enough, this is where branding has it greatest power. When products have similar attributes, messages and brands become greater points of differentiation.